> FOUNDER INSTITUTE

Since Its Inception In 2009, The Founder Institute Has Always Maintained One Guiding Principle; “There Are A Lot Of Big Problems In The World, And We Are Here To Help Founders Build Companies That Will Solve Them.”

Origins
From its Silicon Valley origins, Co-founders Adeo Ressi and Jonathan Greechan have built an unparalleled global network of over 5,000 Portfolio Companies, across 200 cities with the largest mentor network in the world of 21,000 Mentors, innovators, investors and ecosystem builders. With chapters on every continent except Antarctica and $30B in portfolio company value created, it is hands-down the world’s largest pre-seed accelerator.

The Program
The 14 week program consists of a series of practical business building
sessions run by local leaders, volunteers and mentors. Each session pushes founders to develop their company with support, activities and feedback to ensure they are navigating their entrepreneurial journey as effectively as possible.

Although many accelerators rely largely on an educational model, Founder
Institute takes things a step further. Participants in the program don’t have
the option to move slowly. This is a fast paced and intense program for
a fast paced and intense world. When the pandemic hit, FI was the first
accelerator to go fully online and take full advantage of its decentralized
structure.

Bringing in talent from remote corners of the planet where founders would otherwise be unable to access accelerator programs. FI continues to adapt with the times to ensure an ever stronger, ever more united global innovation ecosystem.

Founders that go through the program benefit from a range of resources purpose built to accelerate the growth of early stage ventures. First and foremost, FI runs on a highly structured and momentum driven approach focused on identifying business challenges and solving them as quickly as possible. Constant pitching on a weekly basis, expert mentorship, peer support, office hours and the dreaded but ever-so valuable Epic Sprints are all hallmarks of the program that Alumni swear by.

Every week is a new challenge, whether it’s Vision & Validation, Customer Development, Legal and I.P., Branding & Design or Equity and Fundraising, from session to session, every founder is stress tested from all angles to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running the moment they graduate.

In some cases, founders will decide to step back for a semester, to further develop the company, revisit the plan they had set out with initially or pivot into a different business. Often they return to a subsequent cohort, better prepared, and ready to go a second time around.

At first glance it may seem harsh, but this is done to ensure that the program does not just graduate dreamers with half-baked ideas, but founders with solid stress-tested companies and the skills, resources and networks to build truly world-changing businesses.

No matter where you are in the world, the Founder Institute program operates a tried and true company building process, giving participants access to a global network of startup founders that are going through similar struggles, week after week, day in, day out.

“The Founder Institute is the most raw, ‘street’ program out there for startups.”

- Jason Calacanis, Angel Investor, Host of This Week in Startups and the All-In Podcast, FI Mentor

The Toronto Chapter
In 2014 the first cohort of Founder Institute Toronto was started by Kamal Hassan and Sunil Sharma (previously of Extreme Ventures).

Kamal later went on to found loyal.vc alongside Michael Kosic, a long time mentor with Founder Institute Toronto. Loyal is somewhat unique among venture funds in the sense that it invests primarily in FI graduate companies. For those that have run into FI alumni out in the wild, the reason is clear. Making it through the program isn’t easy and the quality of FI grads is a cut above your standard entrepreneur.

Under Sunil’s leadership, FI Toronto developed into one of Founder Institute’s flagship programs among its 200+ global chapters. Serving as the Managing Director of Techstars Toronto and one of the most widely known evangelists for Canadian tech, Sunil’s involvement with FI has proved invaluable for the local ecosystem.

Originally considered one of the smaller local players, FI Toronto quickly made a name for itself as one of the top accelerators with grads routinely going on to secure significant investments, joining later stage programs such as Techstars and building robust scalable companies.

As the local Toronto chapter developed, sister programs in Waterloo, and vertical specific programs were spun up to further extend the reach of FI in the Toronto-Waterloo tech corridor, as well as connect with the Silicon Valley chapter on a regular basis.

To date, FI Toronto and Waterloo have helped launch 300 Startups from a program with no external funding or government support.

The pool of talented diverse founders that Toronto has to offer has always been FI’s strong-suit. Candidates from all backgrounds, at all stages of life have joined and benefited greatly from the program. Whether they are taking their first steps into entrepreneurship, or are finally ready to pursue their true passion after decades in corporate careers, no matter their background, founders have joined, excelled and succeeded.

Post Program
For many, graduation may feel like the end of FI, but in truth, it’s just the beginning. Over the past couple of years FI global has developed a range of adjacent and post program paths to ensure that founders of all stages can benefit from FI’s global reach. Funding Lab, is one such program, tailor made for Alumni companies that have either completed the core FI program or meet the programs growth and fundraising criteria.

The most recent addition to the FI pipeline are the VC Lab and Leading Institute programs. VC Lab is a structured program similar to FI’s tried and true core curriculum focused on training investors and developing new Venture funds. The goal is to ensure that as FI continues to develop highly capable founders and that the resources they need to thrive are out there in the world ready to support them on their journey.

To ensure the further expansion of FI’s local chapters around the world, the Leading Institute has been developed as a recruitment and training program to ensure that wherever FI operates in the world, that the best possible leadership is present to develop local ecosystems and further strengthen FI’s global network.

As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, the need for founders to take on the world’s challenges is ever more urgent. For those willing to take on those challenges, Founder Institute’s global community is there to guide the way. Find us at fi.co/join to start your journey.

“We believe in a bright future fueled by venture capitalists with strong values. So, we created the VC Lab program with the Mensarius Oath to help innovative fund managers launch impactful venture capital firms in 12 months or less.”

- Adeo Ressi, CEO at VC Lab, Executive Chairman at Founder Institute

FOUNDER INSTITUTE

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